Chapter 3

Thanks for the reviews, you guys are truly awesome. I hope you like this chapter. I'll try to update this and 'The Start of Us' soon.

Reviews, as always, are loved. Xx

After five more minutes in the interview room without gleaning anything useful, except that Richard Castle was innocent of this crime, Kate let him go. She was frustrated both with the case and with herself. She didn't seem to be able to forget the things he had said to her or the look in those intensely blue eyes of his. She didn't know which version of him to believe in; the one who told her that writing about Nikki Heat without her was too painful or the one who had broken her heart three years ago. She was beginning to wonder, for the very first time, if perhaps it was her who had ruined their partnership by misinterpreting the evidence. It was a realisation that shocked her. Had she been falsely accusing Castle for all this time when he was actually innocent?

A headache was beginning to pound at her temples and she wished she had called in sick today. Anything to have avoiding coming face to face with Rick Castle and their past all over again.

"Hey Esposito." Castle smiled, spotting his old friend who was checking emails at her desk. The writer looked down to whether Javier's hands were spread out on the keyboard. No wedding ring. Damn, he thought, maybe he had been wrong about Esposito and Lanie, and he felt disappointment bear down on him.

"Yo Castle, what are you doing here?" Esposito looked surprised to see him but not displeased. That made a change today.

"Helping out." Castle winked, then remembered Andrew's immobile features and Ellie heartbreaking screams and tears. Guilt followed, sobering his expression.

Esposito nodded. "We've missed you, bro. How's everything?"

Castle shrugged a shoulder, not entirely sure of his answer. Seeing Beckett again had turned everything on its head.

"What about you?"

"I got married." He beamed.

Castle grinned, hope flaring that his previous theory might be right after all.

"You did?" He asked giddily.

"Yeah, Lanie and I were on vacation in Las Vegas and we thought 'what the hell'." Esposito's smile turned to a look of surprise as Castle enveloped him in a constricting bear hug. "Uh, thanks man."

"Why aren't you wearing a ring though?" Castle asked, releasing Esposito was beginning to struggle to breathe.

"Undercover assignment, bro."

Castle nodded, about to ask him what he was working on but Kate, trying to hide an amused look at the exchange, approached him with her keys in her hands.

"Come on Castle, let's take you home."

"See ya, bro." Esposito said, giving Castle a wink.

Kate led the way out of the bullpen towards the elevator. As they descended to the ground floor, it felt like the years they had spent apart were melting away.

"Do you still live at the same place?" She asked.

"Can't you take me back to the book store? I don't want to disappoint my legions of loyal fans." From anyone else's mouth it would have sounded pompous and big headed but Kate found herself chuckling.

"No," She replied, becoming serious again. "CSU are still processing the scene and the book store is closed for business for now."

"Oh." They drove on in silence, neither of them knowing quite what to say.

"Well, here we are." She said, pulling to stop outside Castle's apartment building. She tried to hide how much she didn't want to say goodbye to him again.

"Come on up." He said, feeling the same way. "I've got copies of Starr Struck and Starr Crossed around. I want you to have them."

"Um, thanks." Kate replied, nervous about being alone in his home with him. She seemed to have forgiven him without even noticing it happening. She was angrier with herself than with him. Reluctantly, she followed him up to his apartment which looked just the same as always.

"Detective Beckett!" Martha Rodgers all but squealed when she and Rick crossed the threshold.

"Hello Martha." She smiled, quite pleased that they had a chaperone. Rick Castle was the only man she felt out of control around.

"It's good to see you, Kate. Have you been keeping well? Alexis and I have missed seeing you."

Kate smiled. "Yes, thanks. I've missed you, too."

Castle sent his mother a pointed look, and Martha excused herself. They went through to Castle's study where he picked up a copy of each of his newest books.

"Thank you." She said, accepting the novels. Perhaps reading them would distract her from thinking of him for a while. She doubted it though.

"Let me know what you think of them. And who killed Andrew at the book store." He hoped they both sounded like legitimate reasons to see her again. She turned to go.

"Kate." She turned around again and he cupped her face in his hands, kissing her long and slow. Finally, she dragged herself away.

"I'll call you." She said, before hastily exiting the apartment.

In the elevator she opened the copy of Starr Struck to the dedication page and smiled. 'Dedicated to Kate Beckett for teaching me all I know about policing. And love."